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Spread The Word: Embrace Your Mistakes

"How failure breeds success" (Cover Story, July 10) should be a must-read for every executive and business student. Interestingly, the underlying theme throughout is to take time for thorough research and work closely with the intended end users from the beginning to ensure that your new product or service provides true value to your intended market. Thanks to these top executives for sharing their failure experiences and explaining how openly facing these failures ultimately made their organizations stronger. Perhaps this article will serve as a catalyst to make it acceptable business practice for all companies to openly acknowledge and learn from their failures.

Grace Dunklee Cohen

Principal, Anthorne Group PR

Henniker, N.H.

The statement by Jeffrey R. Immelt, "you're never allowed in GE to make the same mistake twice," sounds impressive. But my wife and her friends in our community are baffled as to why there are multiple mistakes with their builder-equipped General Electric Co. (GE) kitchen appliances. They opted for upgrades, thinking they would not be plagued with low-end, high-maintenance units. Unfortunately, this logic was flawed.

After a year, GE service trucks were making daily calls to change the magnetrons on our Spacemaker microwaves. Range and dishwasher problems added to the service techs' workload. We purchased an extended warranty when we had to replace the complete door assembly on our Profile Performance dishwasher (electronic control failure). A year ago we replaced the motor/pump/solenoid assembly (leaky pump). Yet this week the replacement pump does not completely empty the wash water. Here we go again.

Lesson learned. Like Immelt, we will not make the same mistake twice.

David Clapper

Warrington, Pa.

"Where Target may miss the mark" (News: Analysis & Commentary, July 17) continues a string of work by Robert Berner that has been blatantly inaccurate and grossly misleading. In powerful contrast to the unfounded claims made by Mr. Berner, our credit-card strategy is carefully conceived and well-executed, and it provides Target Corp. (TGT) with a compelling tool to foster stronger, deeper, and longer-lasting relationships with our best guests. In addition, it has produced consistent, industry-leading financial results over many years, and it continues to generate substantial incremental sales and profits in our core retail business.

Similarly, our approach to food retailing over the past decade has proven to be highly successful in driving shopping frequency, market share, and profitability.

Doug Scovanner

Executive Vice-President and CFO

Target Corp.


Kudos to Ben Elgin for pointing out that Google, aside from search and maps, is a one-trick pony ("So much fanfare, so few hits," News: Analysis & Commentary, July 10). I was excited when Google Inc. (GOOG) announced its "page creator" earlier this year, thinking it would allow me to easily create Web pages. What a disappointment. It was robust -- for 1997. It was difficult to navigate, with very little functionality. I gave up on it after a few minutes. One wonders if there is any oversight or review by grownups prior to launching these services. Google should spend more of its resources combating click fraud and less on useless, copycat offerings.

David Michael

Lincoln, Calif.

Jon Fine's "Polluting the blogosphere" (Media Centric, July 10) brought back memories of my years in Japan as a journalist during the 1950s and '60s. I discovered that paid-for stories and editorials had been an integral part of Western-style Japanese newspapers since their start in the late 1800s. These stories were often referred to as chochin kiji, or "lantern articles," meaning that they shed light on the topics concerned. The custom is still alive and well, but it is now more cleverly disguised.

Boye Lafayette De Mente

Paradise Valley, Ariz.

"Hedge fund toddlers" (News: Analysis & Commentary, July 3) gives the impression that no prior hedge fund experience is necessary to start a fund and that launching one is "easy" because all it requires is filing some "paperwork." At first, I was impressed by Rebellion Research Technologies because it seemed they had started from the ground up, with no experience.

I became less impressed as I read that Alexander C.E. Fleiss's mother manages her own hedge fund, and Spencer G. Greenberg's father manages another. What's more, Fleiss started the hedge fund with money he inherited from his grandfather. What person would not attempt to capitalize on these facts (i.e., pedigree)? Their "start" is no different than that of Donald Trump. Let's face it, Trump would not be where he is today if it were not for the wisdom, experience, and money inherited from his father, who was himself in the business.

Christopher Siegle

Pompano Beach, Fla.

I suggest we embrace a fresh generation of hedge fund managers by recalling that numerous titans of today's hedge fund community established themselves when they were mere twentysomethings. As a green corporate associate at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in the 1980s, I had the pleasure of drafting the offering memo for Paul Tudor Jones II's first hedge fund (promoting a fundamental trading style based on his successful cotton trading), conducting due diligence at John W. Henry & Co.'s office in Newport Beach, Calif. (jammed with shiny new computers generating orders for his technical trading), and structuring products for Ken Tropin while at Dean Witter (principal-protected, multistrategy, and multimanager funds). Innovations pioneered by these three gentlemen at the inception of their illustrious careers still underpin a substantial segment of the trillion-dollar-plus hedge fund world.

Two "toddlers" cited in the article are the offspring of active hedge fund participants, confirming that the industry and its pioneers have aged gracefully while diversifying their portfolios.

Gary Rindner

Chappaqua, N.Y.

"Homegrown hormone therapy: How safe?" (News: Analysis & Commentary, June 26) contains inaccuracies, omissions, and mischaracterizations about the nature of pharmacy compounding, its practitioners, and its regulators.

The article ignores two critical facts: First, the knowledge and skills of a compounding pharmacist can be extremely valuable, even life-saving. Millions of Americans have unique medical needs that mass-produced, one-size-fits-all drugs from pharmaceutical manufacturers cannot meet. Some patients need extremely small dosages, liquid dosage forms, or medication delivery systems that are not available from manufacturers. Second, the practice is heavily regulated through state boards of pharmacy, national standards, and guidelines. Overlooking these facts, the article inaccurately attributes too much authority to the Food & Drug Administration, which oversees pharmaceutical manufacturing, not pharmacy compounding, and implies that compounded medications are never necessary.

Furthermore, the article quotes three independent experts, all critical of compounding. What is missing is disclosure of the affiliations of these experts. Two have ties to Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (WYE) (a pharmaceutical manufacturer calling for FDA action against compounding pharmacists), and the third is a professional lobbyist for other anti-compounding interests. Finally, the article broadly maligns the entire pharmacy profession, inaccurately asserting that compounding medicines such as bioidentical hormones is illegal. In fact, compounding is a longstanding and basic component of pharmacy practice.

L.D. King, Executive Vice-President

International Academy of

Compounding Pharmacists

Sugar Land, Tex.

Editor's note: The letter was co-signed by John Gans, American Pharmacists Assn.; Bruce Roberts, National Community Pharmacists Assn.; Rebecca Snead, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Assns.; and John Feather, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.

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